Liver explants from 19-day foetal rats were maintained in organ culture, in a defined medium, for up to 48h. Both 6-N,2′-O-dibutyryl cyclic AMP, in the presence of theophylline, and dexamethasone caused an increase in the activities of carbamoyl phosphate synthase, argininosuccinate synthetase, argininosuccinate lyase and arginase. These increases could be abolished by simultaneously incubating the explants with cycloheximide. No change in the activity of ornithine transcarbamoylase was found with either hormone. Previous work has shown that injection of corticosteroids into 19.5-day foetal rats in utero did not cause an increase in the arginine synthetase system. Present results suggest that this lack of effect is not due to any incompetence of the foetal rat liver at this stage to respond to this agent. The observations on ornithine transcarbamoylase activity suggest that this enzyme is induced in the liver of the perinatal rat by neither corticosteroids nor hormones acting via cyclic AMP, and it may be that all the enzymes of the urea cycle are induced physiologically by an agent or agents as yet unidentified.

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